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Royal Academy summer show: prizes for Threefold and Tonkin Liu

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A drawing of a lavender farm built from materials found on the forest site in the South Downs National Park has won the top award for architecture at this year’s Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

The ‘beautiful [and] expressive’ pencil and charcoal design by Threefold Architects, entitled From Forest to Facade, A Woodlands Survey, was handed the £5,000 Rocco Forte Hotels architecture prize.

The 2019 show, curated by Foster + Partners’ head of design Spencer de Grey, focused on sustainable projects.

Prize judge Olga Polizzi, a director of design at Rocco Forte Hotels, said: ‘From the sketch of the proposed house, to the site survey drawings and calculations of the relationship between forestry, trees and building materials, [the work] demonstrates an inspiring, holistic design approach by an emerging architectural practice.’

The illustration of the new farm and equestrian centre, which is not for sale, was drawn by Threefold’s Ryan Hakimian. According to practice director Jack Hosea, the artwork ‘explores the potential for the building to literally come from the site’ with the ‘non-native pine forest felled and charred to supply all of the timber to create the new building’.

He added: ‘[The scheme] will harness the entropy of the seedbank of the ancient woodland, which once occupied the site, to naturally regenerate a native deciduous forest which will eventually grow up around the new building.’

Meanwhile a model of Tonkin Liu’s laser-cut steel, crowd-funded dino-bridge in Crystal Palace Park won the BKI Architecture and Materials Prize – a £2,500 award for the best use of materials.

The jury said the practice’s creative reuse of a ‘simple sheet of recycled steel’ had created a ‘very seductive’ and ‘elegant’ mini-replica of the proposed permanent bridge to the south London park’s Grade I-listed dinosaurs. The model is up for sale for £1,900.

Ra winner dino bridge by tonkin liu model photo

Tonkin Liu’s Opening Bridge to Crystal Palace Dinosaur Islands

Tonkin Liu’s Opening Bridge to Crystal Palace Dinosaur Islands

Elsewhere in the show, Alexandra Blum won the  £5,000 Hugh Casson Drawing Prize for her artwork Goose Eye View while the £1,000 Rose Award for Photography went to Hannah Collins for her picture of Nelson Mandela’s teenage home.

Read AJ architecture editor Rob Wilson’s review of the summer exhibition here.

The show runs until 12 August.

Comment: Spencer de Grey, curator of this year’s sustainability-themed architecture room

How does this year’s show differ from other years?
Sustainability is of such importance today that I felt it should be the over-riding theme for this year’s architecture room at the RA. Such a theme gives visitors to the exhibition a more coherent overview. Not every year has a theme; I believe it is important – it helps people to understand the exhibition.

How did you assess the sustainability of the submissions?
I was looking for a wide range of solutions on the subject: new buildings, existing buildings, materials, urban design and more theoretical approaches. All these are represented.

Have you learned anything from what you’ve exhibited?
That many practices are developing and using extensive systems to address sustainability so that, in the context of a huge challenge, there is cause for some optimism.

How is your own practice meeting the challenge of reducing the carbon footprint of its projects?
We’ve developed a bespoke framework to evaluate all our projects in a holistic manner, covering both operational and embedded energy. This framework aims to meet the challenges of +1.5˚C. We are founding signatories of the Architects Declare initiative, members of the World Green Building Council and we were invited by the UN to produce a visual interpretation of the Paris Agreement.

Beside the award winners, did you have any personal favourites and why?
I greatly admired the award winners, together with The Smile by Alison Brooks Architects (model in tulipwood), Bottlehouse by small. (acrylic model), Bishop Edward King Chapel by Níall McLaughlin Architects (model in steamed beech ), Yen Town – the last unpolluted territory by Chun Ting Ki (digital print), the New Augustinian Centre by Roz Barr Architects (model in plaster, timber and clay), Restoration of Pitzhanger Manor by Julian Harrap Architects (collage) and Pottering Shed by Studio MUTT and Roger Zogolovich (model).

Pottering Shed by Studio MUTT and Roger Zogolovich [as exhibited at the Royal Academy 2019]

Pottering Shed by Studio MUTT and Roger Zogolovich [as exhibited at the Royal Academy 2019]

Pottering Shed by Studio MUTT and Roger Zogolovich, as exhibited at the Royal Academy 2019

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